Ashoka Seattle Programs
Ashoka Seattle is best known for its impact on the region through its cornerstone program, Youth Venture. The Youth Venture mission is to build a global movement of young Changemakers. Through Youth Venture workshops, youth identify their passion around a specific social issue, develop a business-based solution to address it, create an action plan, and pitch the idea to a community panel. Youth Venture aims to inspire and invest in teams of young people to design and launch their own social ventures, enabling them to have the transformative experience of leading positive social change. Locally, Youth Venture has been adopted as an official after school or in-school program at over a dozen public high schools in three school districts in and around Seattle.
In addition to Youth Venture, Ashoka Seattle is developing a host of programs, revolving around the city initiative, that support social entrepreneurs of all ages and levels of experience in the Puget Sound region. Ashoka Fellows are top-tier social entrepreneurs, and Seattle will increase Fellow engagement in the region this year and nominate potential fellows from the region. Ashoka City Changemakers is a new program that will elect top changemakers in the region who are having impact on a City scale. Ashoka Support Network allows business and community leaders to contribute critical resources to build the Changemaking movement.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Building on the success of the afterschool programs, a number of partner schools have brought the Youth Venture curriculum into classrooms. Teachers are using the Dream It. Do It. Challenge curriculum to engage students in a variety of academic subjects, from global or urban issues to marketing or business leadership. Cleveland STEM High School hosts the largest in-school program to date, where all seniors are required to create a social venture as their senior projects. Schools’ willingness to adopt Youth Venture curriculum speaks to the program’s ability to inspire and engage youth across academic disciplines and social issues and solutions.
One of Ashoka Seattle’s strategic goals for 2015 is to tip the youth culture in Seattle to greater than 10 percent who see themselves as Changemakers by launching their own social ventures. Reaching this goal will require a dramatic scaling of our Youth Venture program to reach many more students, which in turn requires an influx of funding, volunteers, and new partnerships. While challenging, impacting the youth culture is central to building an “Everyone a Changemaker” City.